I’m nearly ready to go home. It may be today, tomorrow or the next day, but I’m medically able and maybe even safer to continue my rehab away from here.
I had thought I wasn’t going to say any more for a while but I wanted to relay some thoughts about what’s happened from my experience as a patient, where the NHS has been amazing and maybe look at the areas where someone, like you or I, could make things easier for the system.
The system itself
I’ve been in here for nine days or more. During those days I’ve spent around five mins consciously talking with consultants and all of those nine days talking and working closely with nursing staff.
So it seems obvious to me, who has the greatest influence and the least input into what is best for the patient
The balance is wrong.
The consultants mend the mechanism, but it’s the nursing staff and their support teams who mend the mental.
Nursing at its best is astonishing. It looks the patient in the eye and treats them as a person.
When the service slips, there’s a risk of delivering ‘checklist’ nursing where what is best for the patient is overlooked for the convenience and safety of a checklist.
We need the lists there to ensure the right procedures are followed at the right time, but we need humanity more.
One of my only negative experiences so far has been the decision to insert a new canula into my other arm, add a new iv line in, under super bright lights after waking me up at 3am. The one on my other wrist hadn’t been touched for five days and I’d been getting the steroid it delivered as a tablet anyway.
When you’re out of your head on painkillers, alone in a side room and woken up by a person you’ve never met before, with the door closed, that’s a lot of trust to earn fast and she didn’t. I asked her to check with a doctor that it was the correct decision through my haze and yet a few minutes later it happened anyway.
It sounds crazily dramatic now, but that wasn’t right.
But it could have been, if my voice had mattered and the nurse in question listened to me as a person as much as her checklist.
The same nurse also tried to re-connect me up to a catheter bag and give me another enema in the morning but in a more awake state I was able to exercise more clear consent and stop either from happening.
Rusty thanked me for the last intervention.
So that is my only negative.
What have I loved?
The food, tea and biscuits
It’s been great. Plenty of it, tasty, regular and enough choice to put on a menu for a week or so. I had roast beef for lunch and chicken for dinner today. Loads of tea, fresh water and sandwiches on the few occasions when I’ve missed the meal for whatever reason.
The catering has just come back from Carillion to be in-house and even the staff themselves are saying it’s better. Something as simple as cutting a sandwich into four and serving it on a plate makes it looks more attractive and we half eat with our eyes anyway.
You don’t come into nursing or healthcare to get rich or for the easy hours. The teams I’ve been with here start on the ward at 07.00 until 19.30 or the reverse shift is 19.00 until 07.30.
That’s a long day or night with no discernible breaks, the stress and responsibility of seriously ill people and the pressure this brings.
They get little in the way of politeness and courtesy from some and utter rudeness from many others. More of that in a mo as it’s my biggest bugbear about my whole visit. We need to do more to help these people and we need to do more to help the system cope.
Respect for experience
Again with the staff, it feels like experience counts for less than being able to follow the system. I understand that we sadly live in a litigious world, but for the same individual health details to be added into iPad, iPod and paper copies doesn’t feel like the best use of time to me as a pragmatist.
The upside of the electronic version is that it does allow an immediate and hospital wide state of health check. It will show site wide problems immediately and allows those who matter to be able to identity those who needs help the fastest.
But that needs to be supported by us the patients, as it will cause delays elsewhere.
I witnessed a man on my recovery ward earlier in the week and from behind my curtain, all I could hear was complaint after complaint.
‘The NHS has failed to solve this problem for 13 years now and it is still doing F*all etc’
I’m the first to be a potty mouth and hopefully the last to resort to genuine rudeness, but this tirade was awful to hear. Particularly on the back of another nurse being punched and bitten on the shift previously.
Treat people as you wish to be treated yourself and you should be okay, was how we were taught to behave.
So I looked.
The loudmouth man was a 22 stone man in a 15 stone frame. A bullfrog in his bedside chair, barking the orders at everyone who could hear.
Nursing staff can do a lot, but they can’t retrofit a 22 stone capacity heart if you’re not prepared to put some effort in and lose weight yourself to give them a sporting chance. There’s a lot of mechanical in medicine and even I can see that if you added another 50% of radiators to your house, you’d need a bigger boiler to pump the heat around.
A school can’t turn a terror into an angel with out some parental input. Healthcare works best as a partnership of individuals who have respect for each other’s needs.
Because we pay taxes does not mean we deserve or should expect any preferential treatment.
Drink, drugs and obesity
On my first night in here when I was still in a lot of pain, there was a gent in the bed next door who every hour or so got dressed, let himself out of the neurology ward and came back stinking of smoke and more wobbly than when he left.
I understand we have to respect an individuals freedom to self destruct, but surely not in a hospital setting.
A&E, or just the Emergency Department, as they are trying to rebrand it, is overrun with drink and drug related overcrowding. If we took this out, then it would allow the rest of the system to cope. There has to be a way of achieving this.
Good Friday night here this week after The day’s celebrations saw more ambulances than on any other night. Again that can’t be a coincidence.
If there were less strain through those self-inflicted issues, then maybe much more of the funding should be diverted into education of the costs and debilitating effects of obesity.
Prevention is always better than cure and whilst I know 100kg is hardly sprightly and I’m not one to shout from a tall skinny tower, I’m vowing to keep this down and be more aware of my own impact on this system.
Just not joined up enough.
The system itself is brilliant, but it’s just not joined up enough. Miscommunication is sadly rife, just when you need it.
When you’re scared.
I’ve given up trying to understand what happened as there’s no consensus.
I’ve already seen discharged from the hospital Physio as I have already achieved a level of safety that would allow me to survive.
My next physio appointment is on May 11th. Over three weeks ahead. In the meantime, I have a pamphlet with some exercise regimes to follow and an instruction for no running or football for three months. It’s a good pamphlet, but it’s not like the physio who has driven me personally this week.
And yet I can’t leave yet.
I still need the dreaded MRI and I need some Occupational Therapist input to make the house safe enough for my new wobbly legs.
I still have a catheter so maybe man nappies may be a thing for a while yet. I’m not going home with that still in place.
And I can’t leave here without a badass walking stick. It needs snakes, crocodiles or just pimped in leaving here as Huggy Bear.
My final word from here
Is thank you.
We don’t say it enough.
I’ve witnessed that all week.
So thank you to the exceptional team here, particularly Emelia and Richard who caught me when I fell so hard. It’s Emelia in the picture at the top of this post. That picture is going on my hero wall at home and staying with me forever.
Thank you to anyone and everyone who has read this and sorry for quite so many toilet references. It’s not something you think is important until it breaks and I wouldn’t recommend that.
Thank you to all of you who have sent me literally thousands of messages of support, just when I have needed them most.
Thank you to my family. You have been simply astounding with your love and support.
I’m the luckiest man alive and I’m going home soon.
The next message on here will be me back at home, in the garden with my beer. (Even though it may take the form of a cup of tea).